How to sell a no-code project

Last week we invited @louisv to Indie Worldwide for a Q&A about how he marketed and sold his no-code project UnicornAds in just a few short weeks.

The full recording is available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHq3exuFvoU

Introduce yourself, how did the UnicornAds acquisition come to be?

I'm Louis Vieira, originally from Portugal, started out building Wordpress sites and I was a fast adopter of the no-code movement. UnicornAds was my third no-code project.

The thing about the advertising industry is that ads suck. It's only the top 1% of ads that are actually good. Being able to see those ads let you make your own ads higher quality.

UnicornAds allows you to see all of the facebook ads from the top 1000 Shopify stores.

My main fear with UnicornAds was that it was an MVP and cloning would be easy. So I launched fast, focusing especially on Facebook groups. I also got a couple important people in the industry to share in on Twitter for a big initial boost.

Were those shares random or did you make them happen?

I made them happen by reaching out to people beforehand and asking if the idea would be valuable. They were willing to share because it was useful for their audiences

How did the acquisition come to be? Who reached out to who? What was that conversation like?

ChamberMedia made it simple and fast. I was promoting UnicornAds and got 1,800 comments on a Facebook post while doing Audience Avalanche.

The CEO added me as a friend and started a conversation, he was trying to figure out what it was and what it could be.

I told him it's not for sale but asked if they'd be interested in an acquihire so that I could keep working on the product. By the end of the day I had a meeting scheduled with the president of the agency and a contract on the table.

The process started on a Wednesday and I was hired by Monday as Director of Product and Innovation.

Can you explain the marketing technique you call Audience Avalanche?

You go to a Facebook group and pitch your project in a casual way.

If you make a good post then you'll get a bunch of comments which you should let run for a couple hours before replying.

Then you start tagging people who expressed interest and share the link. You can tag up to 50 people in a comment and you can do 5 or 6 comments before Facebook will stop you.

Facebook will see a lot of engagement from those tagged comments which will encourage the algorithm to share your post to more of the group.

Finally you should edit your original comment to include your link.

I've done this for all projects this year and got over 50,000 users for $0.

How do you self-promote on Facebook groups and not get blocked?

It depends a lot on the Facebook group you're in. It might be cool once, but not a second time.

But if you ask admins before posting you'll have a better chance on getting the go-ahead.

What makes a good Facebook post that drive comments and engagement?
-- Saurabh Kumar

For the post itself I always include a video showing how the tool works and make the speed 2 or 3x so that it's only about 15 seconds long.

For the comment I'll say something like "hey guys, I built a tool that does X. Is there anyone here who would be interested?"

What is the UnicornAds Business model?
-- Justin Harris

My business model was getting as much data as possible from visitors.

UnicornAds was spun off from another project called E-commerce Ranker, another no-code project which ranked the top 100 Spotify Stores and served as source of leads for my agency services as an Ad-runner.

I made a post on Reddit that went viral, but everyone was super focused on the fact that they could see the ads these companies were posting to Facebook.

So I decided to build the ads data out into a separate project (UnicornAds).

I didn't have a specific business model beyond generating leads for my agency, but it could work as an affiliate tool because of the high amount of traffic.

Tips for going viral on Reddit?

The problem with Reddit is that people gain upvotes if they're mean to you.

You have to be above it and make yourself belong by using their memes and language.

You only get a couple shots, it's a risky channel. They can kill you in the comments.

In 2020 you can't expect people to just like your content if you have not adjusted the content to them. People have grown to expect more.

Reddit is good, but its definitely.. I made my money on the deals not the traffic.

Anthony: It was still good targeted traffic for you.

Louis: Yes, many marketers will use channels like this that are very closed (targeted). Even their own facebook profile can be very profitable. People make 10s or 100s of thousands doing this.

What makes an ad good?

Video quality. Shopify stores are getting corporate with entire teams dedicated to making good ads. If you can see trends, you can predict where the market is going. UnicornAds could enable this with it's ability to break things down by niche and enable fast-followers.

How fast does the ads ecosystem change? Are there ever-green strategies?

It changes on a monthly basis. Right now makeup companies destroying their products on video is working well. It's about whatever drives clicks.

Any tool that gives some intelligence on what the competition is doing and what is working for them is extremely valuable.

A one percent improvement on an ad can mean millions of dollars at the end of the year.

How much time did it take to build your product with no-code tools?
-- Gonçalo

Shoutout to NoCodery!

It took around 3 weeks to build, using Table2Site for the frontend/backend with Airtable as the backend.

Data came from scrapers hired from Fiver for cheap.

For Data projects, just be willing to spend a bit and hire people off of a site like Fiver to do the scraping for you.

It cost me about $50 to do the scraping.

Don't know how they do it, but they delivered good data. Scraped like a 1000 instagram accounts for $10. Certainly using scraping tools

Knowing how to scrape is honestly 50% of an internet marketer's job.

What are some resources that you used to learn and then develop on no-code platforms?
-- Nick Goodsman

One thing you should do at the beginning is find other products that were built on your tool of choice.

I picked Table2Site because I saw there were some products built on it that were exactly the same as what I wanted to build.

You kind of have to steal the things that don't matter to your product. If design isn't core, steal what works.

You don't need to reinvent the wheel, you need to invent the engine.

A lot of people in no-code are actually devs trying to save time. I thought I would find more non-technical people, but all my friends in no-code, code!

No-code makes it easy to do the 90%, but can't handle the 10%. At some point you need to get a dev for the edge cases.

Plans for approaching YouTube?

YouTube is a search engine on its own. Google's traffic is going down, for several years now. Young people don't Google's. There's also Google's snippets that is stealing users from the websites that show up in search results.

In the next couple of years, I'm predicting that a lot of the traffic will come from YouTube.

People are going on YouTube to search instead of Google, which means YouTube has a lot of potential. It's much easier to rank your video on YouTube currently (than Google Search).

It's for sure possible to build projects just on the back of YouTube SEO.

The way YouTubers think about YouTube is B2C. But there's a lot of opportunities in B2B on specific website that ranks for SEO. At scale the possibilities for this is huge.

The thing about marketing is that everyone wants to do what's working now, no one wants to invest in what's next. People who do create a crazy advantage. I'm always trying to look at platforms that have a tone of growth potential.

YouTube is hard, you want things that are hard because once you get something viral there's a huge amount of potential.

Where would you focus your marketing energy for a new product now?

Facebook groups for sure and looking for more partners.

It's easier to grow when you partner with people. The markets I target are "rockstar markets" where the 1% makes all the money.

I'd be looking for people with big existing audiences to leverage where you can offer something they don't already have.

For one client we partnered with a huge cooking community website getting 1,000,000 monthly visitors. They got slightly better ad rates than they would have from Google and the client got great targeted traffic for cheap.

How do you think about traffic?

I never make social media pages for my products. That's worthless.

You feel like you accomplished something but actually you've just made more work for yourself for only a few dozens of likes/followers.

Instead I think about how to spend my time to leverage the maximum amount of traffic.

There are people paying social media managers for pages with less than 500 followers.

It's absurd.

I use something I call the marketing wheel as a mental model to think about traffic.

e.g. for UnicornAds my wheel of people who might be interested includes:
- E-Commerce people
- People who run ads
- Shopify people

These are the types of channels I can pursue, now I go find the specific channels I can leverage.

The larger your products grows the larger your bubble grows.

Currently undervalued marketing channels?

You have to ride the wave and find new cheap growth levers.

Facebook ads were one at one time, back when clicks were less than 20 cents.

Right now, Pinterest in undervalued. but it's a specific audience, you're not going to sell software on Pinterest.

LinkedIn conversational ads are undervalued. You can close big enterprise deals for dollars.

It's 15 cents per message, that's absurd.

YouTube is undervalued if you invest in YouTube SEO, if you're thinking in terms of years of product.

The thing about YouTube and any platform, is that even if it's not made for business people will find a way to do business there. It's like TikTok (RIP), if TikTok keeps going eventually your grandparents will be there. So that's where the money would go.

What are the current or future "popup businesses" in your opinion? Like dropshipping or dropservicing that anyone can get into with little money and relative ease.
-- Nick Goodsman

Ecommerce is tough. You have to think about customer acquisition costs. There are only a couple of platforms, Google and Facebook.

So there's limited space and a lot of competition and CPM's (how much ads cost) are super high.

Dropshipping can still work.. if you fit a specific niche, that's a good opportunity.

Rebills are a good idea. e.g. subscription contact lenses.

So instead of paying $20 to acquire a $70 customer, you pay $20 to acquire a $700 customer.

If you can find an easy growth lever, that's perfect, but it won't last forever.

You only see the wave after it passes.

If you want to think about long-term business, look at BuiltWith, a multi-million dollar business built by one person. They found something valuable and just kept growing and expanding.

To build long term, focus on gathering and organizing data.

You have to pivot into sustainable long term marketing strategies at some point. Growth hacks only take you so far.

Final tidbit to take away?

"Risk a lot but don't play in lotteries"

Whatever you build, has to be sustainable and have returning users.

Systemize your thinking and your marketing. e.g. using the relevancy bubble framework and looking for specific channels.

Be like Warren Buffet. The same way he finds undervalued companies, you should find undervalued growth channels.

Join the next Indie Worldwide meetup: https://indieworldwide.co/

  1. 2

    Excellent interview - lots to learn.

  2. 2

    This interview is with Louis Vieira (adding here because his name isn't in the post above, and searching for "Vieira" didn't find this post).

    1. 1

      Good call Rob, I'll add it to the original post too.

  3. 2

    This is quite helpful. Is there a way I can save posts for later? New on IH

  4. 2

    Great to be there with you @AntCas - awesome job sharing all I learned (and all my marketing secrets)

  5. 2

    @louisv -- thank you for sharing your knowledge and passion! It was very helpful and educational for me. I often interpret marketing as sleazy and noisy, and you gave me a different way to look at it.
    @AntCas thank you for doing this interview, asking good questions and clarifying questions, capturing and posting the video, and the beautiful text summary above!

    1. 1

      Thanks Rob, see you again at the next one I hope :)

  6. 2

    Great interview. Loads of things to learn here.

    Btw, are you using any app to convert the video interview to text?

    1. 4

      Nope, I take notes during the interview then re-watch the recording again later to expand on those notes and decide where I'll make cuts or put timestamps later.

      Finally I condense everything and re-arrange or re-word some points so that they make sense when reading. A lot of nuance can be lost by accident going from video to a writeup so I've been trying to be careful about that.

      1. 2

        Woah, that's some work you do there. I thought you convert video to text and then edit.

        But hats off to you. Keep up the great work 👏

      2. 2

        That's lot of work. But lots of insights from the interview. Thankyou.

        1. 1

          It's the only way if I want to be able to cut the video up into a playlist later. I need the exact timestamps and to know what we talked about so that I can write the titles and descriptions. It's definitely not fast or easy!

          Might try using some speech to text software in the future.

  7. 1

    Shoutout to Justin, Nick, Marta, Gonçalo, and Saurabh for asking great questions.

    Definitely check out what these folks are building too.

    Gonçalo: https://nocodery.com/

    Justin: https://studio.envisionwithjustin.com/visionarypass

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